And the twelve gates were twelve pearls
Denoting the purity and preciousness of Christ, by whom the saints enter, and of the saints who enter in thereat, as well as of the place into which they enter.
Every several gate was of one pearl;
the pearl of great price, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only gate, door, and way into this happy state: this shows that this account cannot be taken literally, but mystically, for no such pearl was ever known, large enough to make a gate of.
``A pearl is a hard, white, shining body, usually roundish, found in a shell fish resembling an oyster, but is three or four times the size of the common oyster; and which ordinarily yields ten or twelve pearls, and sometimes more. Those of the largest size that have been known are that of Cleopatra, valued by Pliny at centies H S, or at 80,000 pound sterling; and that brought in 1574 to Philip the Second, of the size of a pigeon's egg, worth 14,400 ducats; and that of the Emperor Rudolph, mentioned by Boetius, called "la peregrina", or the incomparable, of the size of a muscade pear, and weighing 30 carats; and that mentioned by Tavernier, in the hands of the emperor of Persia in 1633, bought of an Arab for 32,000 tomans, which, at three pounds nine shillings the toman, amounts to 110,400 pounds sterling F16.''But what is one of these pearls to make a gate of, for a wall which was an hundred and forty four cubits high? ( Revelation 21:17 ) . The Jews say F17, that the holy blessed God will bring precious stones and "pearls" of thirty cubits by thirty and place them "in the gates of Jerusalem", as it is said, ( Isaiah 54:12 ) which must be understood also not in a literal but mystical sense: and L'Empereur F18 makes mention of an ancient commentary on ( Psalms 87:1 ) which says, that the holy blessed God will make a gate at the east (of the temple), and in it two doors, each of one pearl. So R. Joshua ben Levi says F19, that there are in paradise two gates of agates or diamonds; some render the word rubies.
And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass;
denoting the preciousness and delightfulness of the saints' conversation one with another; and the purity and cleanness of it, there being no mire and filth of sin in these streets; and the sincerity and openness of it, each one walking in his uprightness; which will be seen and known of all, as clearly as anything can be beheld in a transparent glass. So the Jews say F20 of paradise, that the ground is paved with precious stones, the lustre of which may be compared to the light of burning torches.
F16 Chambers's Cyclopedia in the word "Pearl".
F17 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 100. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1. & Yalkut, par. 2. fol. 54. 1.
F18 Misn. Middot, c. 4. sect. 2. Vid. Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 54. 1.
F19 Yalkut Simeoni, par. 1. fol. 7. 1.
F20 Sepher. Avodah Hakkodesh, fol. 46. 1.